MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – Known for his stellar defensive play, Tony Allen has been coming through offensively for the Memphis Grizzlies the past few games.
Allen scored a season-high 19 points and led a key late third-quarter run in the Grizzlies’ 108-101 victory over Sacramento on Tuesday night, helping Memphis beat the Kings at home for the seventh straight time.
An 8.4-point scorer on the season, Allen has averaged 14.7 points in his last three games – all Memphis wins.
“The last few games he’s been scoring a few points and he’s made shots,” said Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. “He’s gotten to the basket, he’s made good decisions.”
Allen had seven points during a 13-8 run that gave the Grizzlies a 10-point lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter. He could have had two more points during the run, but his reverse layup was tipped in by Darrell Arthur.
“Tony is everywhere, he’s all over the place,” Grizzlies center Marc Gasol. “We need Tony to do what he did. He’s a great player.”
Gasol led the Grizzlies with 24 points and 12 rebounds and Mike Conley scored 22 points. But it was Allen’s accuracy (8-of-12 shooting) and energy that helped Memphis enter the All-Star break on a three-game winning streak.
Allen’s hustle led to a late-third quarter field goal that put the Grizzlies ahead 79-71. After Jerryd Bayless missed a 3-pointer, Allen battled to gain possession of the loose ball and drove in for a layup.
“Tony has been playing outstanding,” Hollins said. “His defense has been outstanding. Early in the game focus was a problem. He was gambling and giving up buckets, but as the game wore on he got into it. Usually there’s one guy who’s not having a good night because of Tony Allen.”
Allen said some of his recent offensive production is a result of team’s offensive philosophy.
“We’re an inside-out team and Marc Gasol helps me get a lot of my scoring,” Allen said. “I can benefit from him. I can take what (defenses) give me.”
DeMarcus Cousins scored 23 points and Tyreke Evans had 20 for the Kings, who were attempting to win three straight for the first time in more than two months.
Bayless made a 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the third quarter to give Memphis an 84-73 lead. The Grizzlies boosted their advantage to 13 on several occasions early in the fourth and withstood a late comeback try by the Kings, who pulled to 99-93 with 4:19 to go on a layup by Evans.
Memphis recovered as Gasol and Conley combined to score the team’s final nine points. Conley made four free throws and a runner in the lane and Gasol hit a free throw and field goal.
“(Our) mistakes were higher in the third quarter and that’s where the separation of the game came from,” Kings coach Keith Smart said. “I thought (our) guys did everything they could to put themselves in position to win.”